Jan
14
2011
How Some Players Spent Their Rain Day: Nate Smith’s Brush With the Ocean
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Nate Smith had an eventful rain day

With Thursday at the Sony Open washed out and the practice areas closed, the players found ways to entertain themselves in Hawaii. I spoke with several rookies and second-year PGA Tour players on what they did, but by far, Nate Smith, who finished T11 at Q-School, had the most adventurous day.

The 27-year-old Duke grad grew up in Santa Cruz and his high school golf team’s home course was Spyglass. Nate oozes a chill California vibe, but he’s also rather hyper and wacky, not to mention hilarious. In other words, Nate is a breath of fresh air. He’s got personality, which is sometimes a rare find amongst the army of golfing drones.

Nate’s playing in his first PGA Tour event ever this week and hopefully kicks off the first round at 8:40am local time on Friday. I’m checking in with him afterward to get his take on the experience. He’s agreed to do some type of rookie diary for WUP, which will be very fun.

Without further ado, here’s Nate’s account of his day (with pictures!):

20-foot pipeline at the North Shore (ignore the time stamp)

The North Shore was so sick. We drove up there to check out the surf and stopped for Ahi Poke at this super local market. The drive was beautiful and there were waterfalls coming all down the mountains because of the rain and the tops were shrouded in mist. Unreal break at the pipeline.

Fa shaw!

I’m totally in awe of people that surf it. It’s a way different culture up (compared to Honolulu) — it’s kinda like Santa Cruz where I am from.

Ala Wai Municipal records the most rounds played per year in the US

I hit balls at Ala Wai Municipal Golf Course. Love the PGA Tour!

View from house that Nate is renting with Chris Baryla, Keegan Bradley and Jamie Lovemark

I almost died in the water! I mean, I don’t really think we almost died, but it was pretty hairy out there. Basically, we jumped off a 20-foot cliff with our spears into some pretty big surf and got trapped on the outside of this reef break.

There was supposed to be a channel to come in through but we couldn’t make out the landmarks that well because of the size of the swells, so we had to charge through the break and hope we didn’t get impaled against the reef. It was pretty touch-and-go for a minute.

We ended up making it in and walking home from near the golf course with no shoes, carrying our fins, masks, snorkels and spears. Where’s a courtesy car when you need one?

Fish: 1, Natedogg: 0.

*********

Nate’s email address is “natedog928@[server].com” Hence, the Natedogg reference. But he usually clarifies that it’s dog with one “g.” Apparently he was feeling the double “g” on Thursday evening. “It’s for the homies,” he quipped.

Here are some short bytes from several other guys via text or conversation:

Michael Putnam: “Starbucks, Dole Pineapple Factory and North Shore.”

Andres Gonzales: Went to the golf course at 6 and ate breakfast. Played fliers (a game where you throw a ball up and first guy to catch it three times wins) in the ocean with Peter Tomasulo and some caddies. Went to the movies and saw Country Strong. Shot a few hoops at Dave & Buster’s. Surfed priceline.com for a hotel (checked out of other one because was going to fly home if didn’t get into the tournament as second alternate, but staying now because of the rain day).

Peter Tomasulo: See above, excluding finding a new hotel room.

Chris “Bobby Baryla: “Little workout and massage…too much eating!”

I’m told Steve Stricker took his kids to the aquarium. I spotted Adam Scott strolling the boardwalk in Waikiki. With the practice areas at Waialae Country Club closed, apparently a bunch of the players slummed it and went to Ala Wai to hit dead, dimple-less range balls. Jamie Lovemark tweeted that he and Keegan Bradley snuck in a practice sesh.

I’m probably going to totally jinx things, but the weather appears to be holding up overnight. Let’s hope it stays clear for the rest of the week.